If your garden tools are looking rusty, you have several options for cleaning them and restoring the metal.
WD-40 has been used successfully to remove rust from tools. Spray the rusty area with a little WD-40 and scrub with No. 1 steel wool. Once the rust is removed, rinse away the steel wool dust, let dry, spray a rag with the WD-40 and wipe the metal with the rag.
White Vinegar – You can remove rust from your garden tools by filling a plastic container with undiluted white vinegar. Completely submerge the rusted parts in the vinegar and soak the tool for at least 24 hours. The vinegar’s acids will penetrate the rust and make it easy to remove. Don’t panic if the tool turns dark, this will come off after brushing with a non-metal brush under running water.
Molasses – To remove rust from metal, mix one part molasses to 12 parts water in a plastic bucket. Submerge the tool in the mixture and soak for at least 24 hours. If the rust still remains, let the tool soak a little longer. When the rust is dissolved, scrub with a non-metal brush or sponge under running water.
Cola – Strangely enough, dark colas contain phosphoric acid which can dissolve iron oxide from rusted metal objects. It might be the more expensive way to go, but it’s reported to work well. Cover the metal with cola, soak for 24 hours or until the rust rubs off easily, then scrub with a non-metal brush or scrubbing pad under running water.
Once tools are rust free, dry the metal completely with an oiled rag to maintain its luster. To keep your tools clean and rust free, fill a 5-gallon bucket with builder’s sand. Pour a quart of oil (can be motor oil or vegetable oil) into the sand and stir around. Plunge your shovels and garden tools into the sand and move up and down a few times before removing from the sand. Wipe with a clean rag and store as usual.